SCOTTISH Borders libraries may no longer be sanctuaries of silence, as new rules to allow conversation and electronic devices come in to force.

Councillors voted through the proposals at a meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s executive committee, which will see the new rules put in place for the next 10 years.

The new rulebook was drafted following a public consultation with library users, where 81 percent of respondents agreed that the use of electronic devices should be allowed so long as it doesn’t cause a nuisance to other library users.

However, many of the comments gathered by the council queried the definition of ‘nuisance’, with respondents raising concerns over how this would be policed.

One commenter wrote: “But it does rather depend on what the definition of nuisance is.

“Talking into a recording machine would, in my view, be a nuisance, or listening to music or a voice that is audible to other users would be a nuisance, but listening through earphones to your own device wouldn’t be an issue, unless it was turned up so loud that other users could also hear what was coming through the headphones.”

Another respondent commented that nuisance is “too woolly a definition”, adding: “Libraries should be quiet places with no distractions.”

In agreeing to the proposals, councillors queried whether wifi should be available free to library users, to facilitate the use of electronic devices, and council officers promised to look into that.

The consultation also showed that 76 percent of respondents were in favour of allowing conversation in libraries.

Again, however, many of the comments gathered by the consultation showed concern about the new proposals.

One commenter wrote: “This is somewhat unclear because there is talk in libraries. There always has been.

“I think libraries should continue to be places where people speak in hushed voices.

“Who would want to go to the library and hear what some woman was cooking for dinner or ranting about her neighbour and teenagers gossiping about the latest Instagram and Snapchat post?

“We unfortunately have to hear that in public everywhere else – on the bus, the train, in stores. Let libraries be a free zone!”